Archive for December, 2011

At the midnight hour, when 2011 fades into history ….

I imagine that in bars, clubs and living rooms all over the country — all over the world, for that matter — various versions of this much-loved song will be playing as the clock draws nigh to the midnight hour tomorrow. However, I don’t think any version will outrock this one by the Blues Boy hisself, Mr. BB King, who by the way graces the historic Fox Theater tonight. Don’t know if tickets are still available, but if you haven’t seen him in person, neither you nor Mr. King are getting any younger.

Enjoy, and happy new year, y’all.

Continue reading At the midnight hour, when 2011 fades into history …. »

In challenging times, the past is a seductive distraction

My New Years Day column for the AJC:

A mere five years ago, the man who is now president was just an obscure freshman senator from Illinois; our governor was some congressman from Gainesville whose name nine out of 10 Georgians would not recognize. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent and your house was probably worth 40 percent more than it’s worth today.

Things change — they always have — but these days the pace of change has seemed to quicken. Maybe it’s the consequence of technology that compresses a generation’s worth of evolution into a few years of revolution. Or maybe it just feels that way, just as all of those who came before us felt buffeted by change in their own time. As participants rather than disinterested observers, we lack the perspective to really know.

Certainly, the world that many of us thought we knew and understood has been transformed in the last few years. In recent polls, only a third of Americans still say that our country’s best days are …

Continue reading In challenging times, the past is a seductive distraction »

In Illinois, a church-state conundrum of real consequence

Here’s the crux of the issue, as described by the New York Times:

“Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.”

The Illinois diocese sees itself as a victim of religious persecution. “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” as Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki put it. The church believes that it should be able to use taxpayer dollars as it wishes, in line with its religious beliefs, even if its actions violate Illinois law forbidding discrimination against its gay citizens.

I would argue that the church is not being persecuted. It is not persecution to be held to the standards that are applied to …

Continue reading In Illinois, a church-state conundrum of real consequence »

Poor Newt Gingrich, hoisted by his own petard in Iowa

112911-newt-gingrich-ap_606-1Newt Gingrich’s campaign has apparently gone into freefall in Iowa, to the point that the recent frontrunner has been reduced to musing publicly that a fifth-place finish wouldn’t be so bad. Millions of dollars of negative campaigning aimed in his direction has put a torpedo right in his ample midship.

Newt has complained bitterly about the tactic, calling the attacks “reprehensible” and claiming that the candidates who use them “ought to be ashamed of themselves” and that it “demeans America.” Personally, though, I think there’s a certain poetry in the fact that Gingrich has come undone in such a fashion.

After all, his fellow Republicans are merely using what someone once called “contrasting words,” “powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast.” That certain someone even created a list of such words, urging his followers to “apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.”

On the vocabulary list drafted by that certain someone …

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Four top GOP candidates would ban abortion in rape, incest

In November, 58 percent of voters in Mississippi rejected a so-called “personhood amendment,” which stated that human life begins at the moment of fertilization and gave human embryos all of the legal protections of a person. Destroying an embryo by any means would be considered murder.

The amendment would have outlawed abortion even in cases of rape and incest, as well as embryonic stem-cell research. According to personhood backers, it would also affect birth-control methods such as the morning-after pill, the IUD and even the standard birth-control pill, which works by preventing the fertilized embryo from attaching itself to the uterus. As a practical matter, its adoption would also halt in vitro fertilization to help childless couples.

Nonetheless, four of the top five candidates for the Republican nomination — Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — last night publicly committed themselves to the cause of personhood and to the candidate pledge …

Continue reading Four top GOP candidates would ban abortion in rape, incest »

On state DNR board, no future for a ‘green conservative’

Warren Budd, the vice chairman of the state Board of Natural Resources, calls himself a “green conservative” and claims there are a lot of people like him.

A lifelong active Republican, the insurance agent from Newnan is also an avid outdoorsman. “I care about conservation, and I care about this state,” he said in an interview last week. “I represent the average guy who likes to fish and hunt. This is a beautiful state, and I like to think that there will be something of it left for our grandchildren to enjoy.”

However, even though he was in line to become chair of the 18-member DNR board next year, Budd has been informed that he will not be reappointed when his seven-year term ends on Jan. 1. According to Budd, a “green conservative” point of view is no longer welcome by Gov. Nathan Deal, who wants no dissent from a pro-development agenda that favors special interests.

“”They are very into message-control,” Budd said. “They don’t want board members to act like a board.” …

Continue reading On state DNR board, no future for a ‘green conservative’ »

Newt stumbles, Obama surges and Ron Paul exposed

A handful of political developments to get us started in the last week of 2011:

  • Newt Gingrich — at this point a longtime resident of Virginia, not Georgia — has failed to qualify for the Republican ballot in his home state, which holds its primary on March 6. That’s important in purely practical terms, because Virginia is a big state with a lot of delegates, and because Gingrich was expected to do well there. Instead, only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will appear on the ballot there, because they were the only ones to collect enough valid signatures.
  • The failure is also important as a symbol of the former speaker’s lack of discipline and competent leadership. He likes to talks a big game — he and his advisers have likened the ballot failure to the attack on Pearl Harbor — but grand rhetoric is no substitute for execution.

  • Gallup has confirmed what earlier polls have reported as well — President Obama is having a good holiday season. His job-approval rating of 47 percent is now …
  • Continue reading Newt stumbles, Obama surges and Ron Paul exposed »

    A merry Christmas to one and all….

    Time to shut things down for a while on this end, boys and girls. And I can’t think of a better way to seranade us into the holiday weekend than these fine gentlemen …..

    – Jay Bookman

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    No, Obama didn’t humiliate House GOP. They did it themselves.

    I could, I suppose, write some 3,000-word essay about the capitulation of the House GOP and how it burnishes President Obama’s reputation as a leader, and how it will make things difficult for Republican leadership when they are forced to revisit the issues again in two months. They’ve already demonstrated that they can’t afford the political price of blocking the bill; on the other hand, they’ve got a core of backbenchers who never liked the legislation in the first place, and whose anger and frustration will only increase after this.

    On the other hand, it’s almost Christmas, and I’m supposed to be on vacation. So let’s go this route instead.

    Here’s the Washington Post’s take on what happened yesterday:


    The headlines on the home page of Politico pick up the theme as well:


    And finally, here’s how the conservative National Review saw the outcome:


    – Jay Bookman

    Continue reading No, Obama didn’t humiliate House GOP. They did it themselves. »

    In Iraq, the old ways of doing things may be reasserting themselves

    Iraqi security personnel arrive at the scene of a massive car bombing in downtown Baghdad. (AP photo)

    Iraqi security personnel arrive at the scene of a massive car bombing in downtown Baghdad. (AP photo)

    If you haven’t been following events in Iraq recently, here’s an update:

    Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, the most prominent Sunni in government, has been accused of using his security entourage as a hit squad. Members of his security squad have confessed, but al-Hashimi claims that the confessions were obtained through torture, which is certainly plausible.

    Al-Hashimi has fled to the Kurdish area of Iraq to avoid arrest. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has demanded that the Kurds surrender al-Hashimi, warning “there will be problems” if he is not handed over. He has also threatened to disband the governing coalition, creating a serious political crisis.

    And now this, as reported in The Washington Post:

    BAGHDAD — More than a dozen explosions in Baghdad over a two-hour period Thursday morning killed at least 63 people–the first major violence in Iraq since the U.S. …

    Continue reading In Iraq, the old ways of doing things may be reasserting themselves »